Consumer / Employer

Employees want help with their health benefits, survey finds

Many employed Americans misunderstand their health insurance plans, and 72% want someone to just tell them what the best plan is for their specific needs, the survey found.

Although 82% of employed Americans feel knowledgeable about the health insurance enrollment process, 53% don’t think they’re getting the most out of their options. Another 54% don’t fully understand what their current health insurance offers, a recent survey by Harris Poll found. A separate survey by Forbes discovered high misconceptions among Americans about common insurance industry terms like copayments and coinsurance.

The online Harris Poll survey was conducted from June 9 to 13 and received responses from 2,021 adults, including 1,040 who are employed full-time or part time.

Many employees misunderstand facts about health insurance. For example, the survey found:

  • Three quarters of employed American adults said they believe or are unsure if they can keep Flexible Spending Accounts even if they leave their current job.
  • A majority, or 63%, said they believe or are unsure if they could make changes to their health insurance plan mid-year after enrolling.
  • Almost 60% are unaware they can enroll in a Health Savings Account if they have a high-deductible health plan.
  • More than half, or 54%, believe or are unsure if a deductible is how much their insurance will pay for various health services.
  • The Forbes Advisor survey, which featured 2,000 Americans with health insurance, found that 77% don’t understand what coinsurance is and another 46% don’t understand what a copayment is.

Many employed Americans, at 72%, said they want someone to tell them what the best health insurance plan is for their particular needs. But a lot of workers don’t know who to go to for help: 44% of employed respondents said they feel uncomfortable asking their HR representative questions about enrollment. Another 47% said they call their friends and family for advice.

Almost half of workers are pressured into choosing the most expensive health insurance plan to make sure they have enough coverage, the survey found. The stress of enrollment leads 62% of employed Americans to stick with their current plan rather than make changes year over year.

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Of the employed respondents, 66% said they are actively looking for a new job or are open to a new role. Employee benefits are a significant factor in choosing companies, the survey found, with 78% of workers saying health insurance that meets their specific needs is important to them when searching for a new job. Another 64% said they would be willing to give up some pay for better health insurance, though this is more common among those who are actively looking for a new role. 

About two-thirds of respondents said their company’s health insurance affects how much they want to continue working there. Employees that are actively looking for, or are open to a new job were more likely to say they aren’t getting the most out of their health insurance options than those who intend to stay in their current positions.

Health plan issues are especially prevalent among younger employees, the survey found. This age group is less knowledgeable about health insurance, feel more uncomfortable asking questions to their HR reps, are more unsure about what their health insurance offers and feel more pressured to select the most expensive health plan.

Photo: Nataliia Nesterenko, Getty Images